Republican Senator John McCain called for a suspension of US military aid to Egypt after the army ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, breaking with the official position in Washington.
"I've thought long and hard about this, but I believe that we have to suspend the aid to the Egyptian military, because the Egyptian military has overturned the vote of the people of Egypt," McCain said Friday evening at a press conference in his home state of Arizona.
"We cannot repeat the same mistakes we made at other times in our history by supporting the removal of freely elected governments," the 2008 presidential candidate said.
"So I believe that the aid has to be suspended, that the Egyptian military has to set a timetable for elections and new Constitution, and then we should evaluate whether to continue the aid or not.
"And I am aware that by suspending aid to the Egyptian military, which is the only stable institution in Egypt, we are risking further problems in the Sinai, and in other areas of cooperation with the Egyptian military," McCain said.
"I say that with great reluctance, but the United States of America I think must learn the lessons of history and that is: we cannot stand by without acting in cases where freely elected governments are unseated by the military arm of those nations," he concluded.
His position sets him apart from the views adopted by several other Congressmen and by President Barack Obama, who, in his sole statement on the situation, avoided using the word "coup."
American law requires all military and economic aid be suspended when a government is overturned by the military.
Obama, so far, has simply said the US administration is "deeply concerned" by the turn of events, adding he has ordered a review of "the implications under US law for our assistance to the government of Egypt."
The US gives some $1.3 billion in military aid each year to the Egyptian army.